This essay examines a group of pamphlets, published in the State of Milan in the years 1746-1751 by a group of physicians and a priest, who deal (on request by the bishop of Cremona) with the case of a young virgin exibiting extraordinary symptoms, which had long been believed to be of preternatural or miraculous origin, and were treated by her confessor through exorcisms as a case of diabolical possession (or diabolical temptation on the road to holiness). The essay investigates the reasons why this group of consultants flatly refused both the hypotesis of possession and the therapy of exorcism - once the normal course to be adopted in the case of such symptoms. Some of the sources of this change are retraced, underlining various influences: scientific discoveries excluding spontaneous generation; the effects of cartesian phisiology and anatomical research, which was revolutionizing ancient theories on the relations between soul, brain, and the nervous system; and the momentous changes in the policies of the Roman Curia and the Holy Office, in the period between 1680 and 1710, when war, political change, and the new influence of French theological schools suggested a partial revision in the definition of miracles, true holiness and diabolical possession. This revision was given its final form by Prospero Lambertini’s celebrated work on criteria for beatification; the essay’s conclusion highlights the relation between the Cremona case, and the legislation emanated in the 1740’s by Lambertini, then elected pope as Benedict XIV, and by the Holy Office, especially to discourage too close relations between confessors and their women penitents.
|Titolo:||La fine dell’esorcismo : possessione, santità, isteria dall’età barocca all’Illuminismo|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore M-STO/02 - Storia Moderna|
|Data di pubblicazione:||apr-2003|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|